- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Alexander Semin is paid to score goals. His $6.7 million salary is indicative of that.

So far this season, he hasn’t produced to that elite level, putting up just two goals and five assists in seven games. But Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was complimentary of Semin’s all-around game.

“He’s probably frustrated a little bit because he hasn’t scored because it’s new territory for him,” Boudreau said Tuesday. “I think he’s worked harder this year than he’s worked in the past. We talked about it today, me and him, we went over video and looked at maybe why things aren’t going in for him.”

That’s not just a coach standing behind his player, either. There has been a certain new level of determination to Semin’s game and his play away from the puck.

“He’s working harder. He’s more committed to doing what he’s supposed to be doing,” Boudreau said. “You don’t see those real big lapses or just staying out on the ice for long periods of time.”

He still leads the Caps in minor penalties with seven, a problem that has been around for all of Semin’s career.

It’s not even a subject that Boudreau needs to broach anymore.

“I don’t think I have to remind him. He knows,” Boudreau said. “He’s been reminded for years about it.”

The penalties, Boudreau said, have come from scoring chances. The offensive-zone ones are a bit different, but it seems Semin — at the very least — is not getting the benefit of the doubt.

“I would think that referees look for him,” Boudreau said. “They don’t give him the breaks that other guys would normally get.”

That said, seven points in 12 games and a sharp focus on hustling hasn’t been a bad showing for a guy often called enigmatic.

“He’s going to get better,” Boudreau said, “but I like the way he’s trending.”